These two Vespa scooters flanking my GTS belong to first time riders -- a young man and woman, maybe in college, perhaps high school. They are excited about riding and I've seen them around town. They ride with helmets on top of short pants and t-shirts, no gloves and no boots. A riding costume I see not just with scooters but on sport bikes and cruisers as well. This post isn't about safety concerns though. It's about how these kinds of dress habits may short circuit the discovery of the thrill of riding in cold weather. I've spoken to many, many riders who dismiss riding in the cold. To a rider when asked what kind of cold weather gear they used they admitted they didn't have any. Under dress when the temperature dips below 70 and things can feel chilly. Below 60 and you figure you should just park the machine.
I love riding in the fall, especially at sunrise. There's a warm glow in the autumn light, a fragrance of decaying leaves, and a crispness to the air that is unmatched any other time of the year. I left early in the morning for a short ride before work, a sort of extended commute. Coming down the mountain I say my temperature gauge reading 45 degrees, cold by most rider's standards. I hate being cold and shiver at 68 degrees. I look forward to riding in cold weather but only with the right gear.
To be able to enjoy the road when the temperature goes down means you absolutely have to have the right gear. Otherwise things will be miserable. It means a commitment of money and time --- money to buy the stuff and time to put it on. And for some it may mean a divorce from any preconceived style ideas especially where helmets are concerned.
If you are used to just jumping on a motorcycle or scooter with whatever you happen to be wearing you may have a hard time in cold weather rationalizing the amount of gear you have to don. It may be best to bundle the machine up in the garage and do something else. Just remember, you'll be missing some great riding.
My hands were already getting cold after numerous stops to make pictures where I had to take off my gloves. The camera feels like an ice cube in cold weather. As the first beam of sunlight cut through the forest it was 45 degrees it was 40 degrees warmer than my lowest riding temperature limit of 5 degrees. At the lowest temperature here is what I wear from the skin out:
Poly long underwear
Long sleeved shirt
First Gear Kilimanjaro IV Armored jacket
Gerbing electric gloves
For someone used to riding with no gear that's a lot of stuff to put on.
With the sun sweeping across the open fields it was time to ride to work. On this particular morning I had on everything on the above list EXCEPT the ski mask, long underwear, and electric gloves. Still takes time to put it on.
So before you decide that cold weather is not for you beg or borrow some gear and try riding when you are not cold. You may find the effort brings you many more weeks or months of riding.